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A big project due at work. Giving the big toast at a wedding. Your mother-in-law is coming to town. Any of these situations can cause stress.
“Stress is manifested in different ways among different people,” says Carlyle Stewart, M.D., an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
For example, your heart beats more quickly, your breathing gets faster and your mind races. The release of adrenaline you feel during stressful periods over time depletes the body’s serotonin as well as other important chemicals levels that are associated with a sense of well-being. The loss of these hormones can cause fatigue, anxiety and even depression. When stress strikes, Dr. Stewart offers the following tips for quick relief.
1. Go for a run. “The natural thing to do is to exercise,” he says. “It’s a potent stimulus to the adrenal gland and helps the body form more serotonin and other naturally occurring chemicals, such as endorphins, that enhance a feeling of well-being and pleasure.”
2. Take a slow, deep breath. Slow, deep breathing helps bring your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing back down to normal levels.
3. Walk away. You can’t always avoid stress, Dr. Stewart says. But if it’s at all possible to walk away from the stressful situation, consider this option. Returning at a later time with a reasonable or satisfying plan of action may go a long way toward defusing a stressful experience, he adds.
4. Watch a funny movie. “Anything that makes you laugh can neutralize the negative effects of stress,” Dr. Stewart says. Laughter raises endorphin levels, which share their origins with serotonin and help naturally combat stress.
5. Go to bed early. “A good night’s sleep is a great way to reduce the effects of stress,” he adds.
6. Eat a meal. “When people get stressed, they often skip meals,” Dr. Stewart explains. “Make sure you’re getting a basic level of protein and vitamins, so you can maintain your energy levels.” Keeping your energy up helps you face the world — and the stressful situations it can bring.
To learn more about the effects of chronic stress, click here.
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